The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians

David Rubenstein. Simon and Schuster, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-1-9821-2025-2
Philanthropist and Bloomberg TV host Rubenstein debuts with a collection of 16 interviews he’s conducted as part of the Congressional Dialogues, a series of dinners held at the Library of Congress in which historians and biographers discuss their subjects in front of an audience of lawmakers. The interviews include such heavy hitters as Ron Chernow on Alexander Hamilton, Robert Caro on Lyndon B. Johnson, Doris Kearns Goodwin on Abraham Lincoln, and Taylor Branch on Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. The best discussions are fascinating and surprisingly funny, as when A. Scott Berg relates the moment that he discovered how Charles Lindbergh relieved himself during his transatlantic flight: in a paper cup. Rubinstein elicits unexpected biographical nuggets, including the fact that Martin Luther King Jr.’s name was changed from Michael when he was five years old, after his father visited Protestant reformer Martin Luther’s birthplace. Broader ranging conversations, however, such as Jay Winik on FDR, can feel a bit disjointed and in need of tighter editing. The homogenous roster of interviewees and historical subjects, however, underrepresents women (only Goodwin, Cokie Roberts, and the “Founding Mothers” are featured) and people of color. The result is a well-intentioned and mostly engaging collection that suffers for its lack of inclusivity. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/28/2019
Release date: 10/29/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0595-6
Library Binding - 698 pages - 978-1-4328-7618-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-0597-0
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